Ok I admit it, I've been hunkering down trying to avoid the fact that a New Year has started. I find it easier to go into hiding for a while, but with Mr Obama so resolutely and admirably taking up the challenge of the new today, I think the least I can do is pick myself up, dust myself down, and get cracking. So as Barak casts a bright light in our direction...let me talk about light too. Over New Year, I met a friend, who's lucky enough to have recently acquired a beach hut in Scotland moments from the shore. It's the sort of romantic retreat where you can escape from the fray for a few nights and really forget modern day life. It's easy enough to do that, because there really aren't many vestiges of modern day life in the hut. There's no electricity, cooking is done on a little gas ring cooker, there's a fold-down table, a log-burning central fire-place, and two benches/beds. The loo is outside, and you have to empty it. Washing is not to be encouraged especially in the winter, as you have to bring your own water, heat it, and then rub yourself down with a flannel. But in spite of these drawbacks, when I visited the place with her, I was just in heaven! What FUN you could have there! One thing that really caught my imagination, was the oil-lamps that she uses when the sun dips below the sea(pretty early in January in Scotland!). She's found some beautiful old oil lamps, with lovely glass shades..and apparantly the oil lasts for hours. You can still buy the original wicks in old-fashioned iron-mongers shops, of which there are thankfully, still a few around. When I went to have a look, I was thrilled to find that you can not only buy the wicks, but you can still purchase oil lamps new. So if you find you can't pay the electricity bill this month..may I make a suggestion? Cut yourself off, cast a bright light, and purchase an oil lamp. They look so pretty, they're practical, cheap, and retro.....what's not to love!